The emotions of an election count

Editor’s Note: Ed sent us this post on Thursday night but we were all out at our own counts so didn’t get the chance to put it up. It is all the more poignant given that Mark Williams was defeated by a mere 104 votes, meaning that we no longer have an MP in Wales. 

I talked to Ed and we agreed that his heartfelt post should still go up, so here it is….

As I arrived at the count, the ambition of our hopes crashed to the floor as what was hoped for and planned had slipped away. And so it was that I lost (third) in the closest result in mainland Britain in 2010: Hampstead and Kilburn.

Tonight I will return to the General Election fray and will go as a staffer: the Election Co-ordinator for Mid, North and West Wales for the Liberal Democrats. I will attend the Ceredigion count in far rural west Wales to support Mark Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

Election counts are odd, grim and puzzling – you are enclosed in a tight space, the count changes little and it is the verification that matters. Few elections are knife edge close – it’s the campaign that has the drama and the frisson is the declaration at the end.

For my own part I now find I struggle at counts: you have a job to do scrutinising and getting the box count data, you need to co-ordinate the team and spot the gaps and potential problems and be in control of your emotions and all senses racing. Adrenaline is a real drug and you get no choice as it courses through your veins and the only antidote is calm and fixed smiles. For my own part I resist triumphalism and yet the venom often expressed at said occasions lingers in your mind, in your memory and in your heart. My own election count of 2010 is seared into me and will never leave. For several years after 2010 I lost all emotion and it has taken a long time to come round to understanding my own psyche since. Now I can cry at the smallest, simplest and most natural things – then I suppressed emotion and pressed on.

Yesterday I found myself yearning to be back on my little allotment, I have had weeks of wanting my own bed and today I found my mind drifting back over past elections. Just now I pulled out the phone and went to ring my best friend Neil Trafford – he has been lost for some years and yet tonight I remember I still need him.

So, alongside this rollercoaster of emotion and regret is a lot of fear on my part. But there is also gratitude to the legion of candidates of all parties and none. No-one who has not stood fully understands what you have done, what you are going through and how surgingly crushing the whole thing can be. As a liberal I know what it means to lose an election, but as a liberal I also know that the only causes worth fighting are lost causes.

As the results come through tonight spare a thought for those who stand, for those who lose and those who come back year after year to fight for what they believe and to give you the chance to cast a vote and make your choice.

Good luck fellow Liberal Democrats,thank-you candidates, and when you get the chance to reflect on what has happened – please take my thanks as heartfelt. I mean It. I know what you have been through. You deserve our thanks.

* Ed Fordham is a party member and activist in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

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  • “For several years after 2010 I lost all emotion and it has taken a long time to come round to understanding my own psyche since.”

    I can relate a lot to this. I don’t think my involvrment in politics was a good thing for me (and I’m loads happier out of it!). I hope you’re Ok in the aftermath of Thursday.

  • I can’t hide my emotions about the French National Assembly elections.

  • I can’t imagine being happy not being involved. It’s my “drug” if you like, but I care too much for my own good that we will eventually succeed.

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